Three Branches of Government


Looking to teach your students about the three branches of government? This lesson plan is just what you need! Your students will learn all about the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, and what role each plays in our democracy.

Included with this lesson are some adjustments or additions that you can make if you’d like, found in the “Options for Lesson” section of the Classroom Procedure page. One of the optional adjustments to the lesson activity is to use different laws or reuse some actual laws from the past.

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What our Three Branches of Government lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Three Branches of Government introduces students to the branches of government and gets them thinking about the roles each plays in our society. At the end of the lesson, students will be able to identify the three branches of the U.S. government and list some of the responsibilities of each. They’ll have a better understanding of how our government works and how it impacts their everyday lives. This lesson is for students in 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the orange box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. To prepare for this lesson ahead of time, you can review the activity and copy the handouts.

Options for Lesson

Included with this lesson is an “Options for Lesson” section that lists a number of suggestions for activities to add to the lesson or substitutions for the ones already in the lesson. All of the suggested adjustments to the lesson are for the activity. You can use different laws or reuse some actual laws from the past. You can also assign each student a role rather than having them choose their role or eliminate the Supreme Court justice from being appointed, allowing nine justices from the beginning. Finally, you can allow your students to randomly choose roles a second time and have them discuss a new law.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page includes a paragraph with additional guidelines and things to think about as you begin to plan your lesson. This page also includes lines that you can use to add your own notes as you’re preparing for this lesson.


Three Branches of Government

The Three Branches of Government lesson plan includes three content pages. The lesson begins by explaining that one friend might act like the leader of a friend group. When the group thinks about doing something together, they need to make a decision about whether or not to do it. The leader might think of the idea, but some or all of the group needs to agree. One person might not want to do it, in which case you might try to come up with something else. This is similar to how the three branches of government in the United States work.

The Three Branches of Government are the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. Each of these branches has a special function in the government and the running of the country. The U.S. Constitution established the three branches in order to separate the powers of government.

Legislative Branch

The Legislative Branch includes the two Houses of Congress, where they write, discuss, and vote on laws. One of the houses, the Senate, has 100 senators (two from each state) who the citizens of each state elect. Senators serve six-year terms which can be consecutive. The Vice President is in charge of the Senate and votes if there’s a tie. The Senate also approves Presidential nominations to Cabinet, Supreme Court, federal court, and other positions. The Senate must also approve all treaties, or agreements made with other countries, by a two thirds vote.

The other house, the House of Representatives, has 435 representatives. This number is based on the population of each state. The citizens of each state elect them and they serve two-year terms, which can be consecutive. The representatives elect a Speaker of the House to serve as their leader.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have to vote in order to ratify a bill to become law. They can also override Presidential vetoes.

Executive Branch

The Executive Branch includes the President, Vice President, and the Cabinet. The President is the lease of the country and the people of the country elect them to a four-year term. They can only serve two terms in office total. The President approves and carries out the laws that the Legislative Branch passes. They can also veto laws, appoint and remove cabinet members, and negotiate treaties as part of their duties as head of state. The President is also the commander in chief of the armed forces. The Cabinet gives them advice about important matters.

The Cabinet includes the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General (Justice Department), the Secretary of the Interior, and more.

Judicial Branch

The Judicial Branch includes the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is made up of eight judges and one chief justice. The people who serve on the Supreme Court have no term limits and can serve until they die. The President nominates them and the Senate approves them. They explain the meaning of the Constitution and the laws and decide whether something is constitutional or unconstitutional. They decide court cases and settle court cases between two or more states.

The people who wrote the Constitution in 1787 wanted to make sure that no one person or group could have complete power over the country. They wanted a strong but fair national government, and they also wanted to protect individual freedoms. The Three Branches of Government are a system of checks and balances. This means that the three branches share power.


The Three Branches of Government lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. You can refer to the guide on the classroom procedure page to determine when to hand out each worksheet.


For the activity worksheet, students will choose a role at random (President, Vice President, Senator, or Justice) and will think about a new law through the lens of their role. Each group, which will have a mix of students with different roles, will discuss the law together and will listen carefully to each other’s arguments.


The practice worksheet asks students to read 20 statements and determine which branch each statement corresponds to.


For the homework assignment, students will answer ten questions about the lesson material. They will also look at three pictures of different buildings and will write the name of the branch of government that is related to each.

Worksheet Answer Keys

This lesson plan includes answer keys for the practice worksheet and the homework assignment. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade


Social Studies

State Educational Standards

LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.3, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.5, LB.ELA-Literacy.W.4.3, LB.ELA-Literacy.W.4.7, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.3, LB.ELA-Literacy.W.5.2, LB.ELA-Literacy.W.5.3, LB.ELA-Literacy.W.5.7, LB.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.2, LB.ELA-Literacy.RH.6.4, LB.ELA-Literacy.RH.6.10

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United States United States

Very good resource

I teach HSE students, and I modified the lesson for them some, but found the worksheets to be very useful in teaching them an overview of the three branches of government. I will definitely use it again.

United States United States

Great find!

Used this lesson to introduce my daughter to the three branches of government. We homeschool, grade 4. It’s just the two of us so we couldn’t do the larger activity but, between the information in the lesson, the video link and the other activity sheets, she really got a good grasp of the topic! I look forward to utilizing other lesson plans!

Jordon K.

Great lesson Plan

Very satisfied with the quality of the lesson

Cheryl E.

Fantastic resources

My son loves using these resources. A+

Cris S.

I am starting my first

I am starting my first year of teaching and I am feeling overwhelmed by all the different curriculum. When I stumbled onto Clarendon Learning I felt a wave of relief. I now had a base to work from in creating lesson plans to fit my needs. I haven't taught any of the lessons, yet, but I know that I now have some tools in my pocket that I will be able to use. Thank you for having these lesson plans available.